Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works–a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn’s bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room. Debut author Jonas Karlsson doesn’t leave a word out of place in this brilliant, bizarre, delightful take on how far we will go–in a world ruled by conformity–to live an individual and examined life.
My take: 3 looks
A fun little novella by a famous Swedish actor, the reviews on this one are rave. While I don’t think it will change my life like it did some other readers, I did enjoy it.
Bjorn is an utterly unreliable narrator, seeing himself as far superior to his coworkers, and even his boss. He is so low in the organization that he is given tasks like making lists of phone numbers, and ensuring the printers are full of paper. However, he sees all of this as a bit of a ruse by his coworkers to surreptitiously undermine him, because of course, they are threatened by his knowledge and work ethic.
One day, Bjorn discovers a hidden room between the toilets and the lift. Inside the room, he feels relaxed, secure, efficient. He is able to look in the mirror and see himself as more handsome than he remembered, with a suit that looks fantastic on him, and his hair is perfect. In short, this room is the nirvana of Bjorn’s psyche.
Once the coworkers start asking him why he is standing in a daze at the wall, he realizes that not everyone can see the room, and the story takes on a new dimension.
Listen to the NRP review of “The Room” at this link.